Lombard Street (San Francisco, California)

Lombard Street
Photo by Jodie Wilson

It’s rare that a truly great roadside attraction is actually a road, but there are a few examples around the world and one of them is definitely Lombard Street in San Francisco, California.  Lombard Street is a normal by San Francisco standards with one small exception.  For a single block between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street, Lombard Street is paved with red bricks, and with its series of switchbacks becomes known as “The Crookedest Street in the World” (it’s not but that’s another story).  Designed in 1922 to ease the 27% natural grade, the street became more easily passable but the traffic was restricted to one direction (down-hill).  Residents that live on the street added the gardens of hydrangeas and roses some 30 years later.

Visiting Lombard Street

  • If you visit Lombard street be prepared for a crowd. There will probably never be a time of day that you can get a photo without other people in it.
  • Remember that people live on Lombard Street! The people that live on the street have to deal with the crowds. They don’t need you standing on their doorsteps or leaving trash in their front yards.
  • The street itself is open to cars but pedestrians are not supposed to walk on it. There are sidewalks for that.
  • One of the best views in the city (in my opinion) is from the top of the street. Stop for a second and take in the beautiful city before you leave for other sites.
  • The Powell-Hyde Cable Car stops at the top of Lombard Street.

Lombard Street Facts

  • Although it is known as the “Crookedest Street in the World,” Lombard Street is not even the “crookedest” street in San Francisco.  That title technically belongs to Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd streets on Potrero Hill.
  • It may seem dangerous but the slow switchbacks on Lombard Street were originally built to increase the safety of the street.
  • In the 1920s, a property owner suggested creating a series of switchbacks which not only added to the street’s scenic appeal, but made it safer for pedestrians.
  • The Lombard name has no link to San Francisco history. It’s actually named after a street in Philadelphia.
  • For a number of years there was an annual Lombard Street Easter Sunday big-wheel race.
  • The wiggly portion of Lombard Street is one way.
  • The speed limit is set at 5 mph going down Lombard Street.